Horses of San Marco, Venice
Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 21, 2012
This may be hard to believe, but the four bronze (actually, they’re copper) horses above the door of the San Marco Basilica in Venice pre-date Christianity. They have been attributed to Lysippos, the 4th century BCE Greek sculptor, although this theory is not universally accepted. But that gives you an idea of their age.
They were originally displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, until Venetian soldiers sacked the city in 1204 and took the horses as spoils of war. In 1256, Doge Enrico Dandolo sent the horses to Venice where they were installed on the cathedral. The horses traveled to Paris with Napoleon in 1797 and became part of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. The horses were returned by the Austrian emperor in 1815, after the Battle of Waterloo. As my husband says, they’ve seen a lot of Europe.
The horses guarded the cathedral facade until the 1980s, when they were moved into the basilica’s museum to protect them from damage caused by air pollution. The original horses are in the photo below. In the entrance hall, there is a staircase on your right, as you enter the nave of the cathedral. The museum (and access to the parapet) costs 10 euros, which is a bit steep but you can get some great photos of the piazza and the Doge’s palace.
This Sunday I’m flying to Staines UK and will be taking a course all week, so I won’t be posting much (at least not about Italy). The course is Enterprise Architect. I always wanted to build a starship.🙂